By: Nate Calvin
Last season the Patrick Henry Patriots were one of the surprise teams in Northwest Ohio, especially after they started the season 0-3. They recovered though to run the table in the NWOAL to win the league championship with a record of 7-0 and qualify for the playoffs.
This season will be a different story for the Patriots who are the overwhelming favorite to win league according to the coaches in their preseason voting. The Patriots grabbed the top spot followed by Bryan, Archbold, Liberty Center, Wauseon, Evergreen, Swanton, and Delta with Archbold the only other school garnering a first-place vote.
The NWOAL schedule features plenty of intriguing matchups as always with PH at Archbold on September 20th, Archbold at Bryan on September 27th, Bryan at PH on October 11th, Bryan at Liberty Center on October 18th, and Patrick Henry travels to Liberty Center on October 25th just to name a few. Below is a preview for each team in order of the coach’s preseason voting:
1. Patrick Henry (7-4, 7-0 in NWOAL; lost in D7 Regional Quarterfinals to McComb 45-21)
Head Coach: Bill Inselmann-27th season
Key Losses: Brayden Petersen-FB/DE, AJ Healy-TE/LB, Cam Gerbers-OT/DT, Josafat Jinojosa-DB, Logen Schwiebert-WR
Key Returners: TJ Rhamy-QB/NG (1,119 yds rushing, 1,190 yds passing), Wil Morrow-RB/LB (867 yds rushing), Kolton Holloway-WR (542 yds rec), Garrett Schwiebert-OT/DT, Spencer Gerschutz-OG/LB
Promising Newcomers: Clayton Feehan- Junior, WR/DB; Caleb Rosengarten- Junior, C/DE
The Patriots are considered the team to beat entering the 2019 season as they return two of the top players in the league with TJ Rhamy and Wil Morrow back. Patrick Henry, who returns 12 letterwinners, will be experienced on the offensive and defensive lines and at the skill positions. A concern for Inselmann will be depth as the Patriots only have varsity players from their top three grades on their roster. Inselmann stated he wants his team to compete for the league title and make a long playoff run. The Patriots coach expects Archbold and Bryan to be near the top of the league while he considers Liberty Center and Wauseon as teams to watch in the league race.
Patrick Henry opens the season at Lake on August 30th and starts NWOAL play at Archbold on September 20th.
2. Bryan (7-4, 5-2 in NWOAL; lost in D4 Regional Quarterfinals to Clear Fork 20-6)
Head Coach: Grant Redhead-4th season
Key Losses: Matt Herold-DE/OL (Two-time 1st Team All-NWOAL DE), Keegan Brown-OL/DL, Alex Potvin-LB/RB (1st Team All NWOAL LB), Brycen Andrews-WR/SS (1st Team All NWOAL WR), Noah Bany-DT, Eion Moor-DT, Chandler Jackson-K, Drew Peters-RB, Adam Queen-DB
Key Returners: Nate Miller-QB/FS, Conner Arthur-WR/DB, Austin Dean-WR/DB, Logan Clemens WR/FS, Dom James RB/LB, Carter Hoffman OL/DL
Promising Newcomers: Mikey Wolff RB/LB, Korbin Shepherd WR/DB, Logan Moss RB/LB, AJ Martinez QB/FS, Decota Shaw WR/DB, Jay Damron WR/DB
Bryan will lean on their passing game and experienced skill players this season as they look for a return trip to the playoffs. Head Coach Grant Redhead said one of the keys for the Golden Bears will be the play of the offensive line, stating he’s looking for them to be more consistent.
“The team has the potential to finish in the top of the NWOAL and return to the playoffs. Focusing on the little things will make a big difference”, said Redhead. He expects the league competition to be very strong this year with Patrick Henry the frontrunner based on the fact they return a good portion of last year’s league championship team.
Bryan will start the season at home when they host Van Wert with their league opener at Wauseon on September 20th.
T3. Archbold (7-3, 4-3 in NWOAL; No Playoffs)
Head Coach: David Dominique-5th season
Key Losses: Holden Galvan-OG/DT (41 tackles), Kasyn Schaffner-DT (74 tackles), Izzy Reyes-RB/LB (27 tackles; 157 yds rushing, 3 TDs), Zach Rocha RB/CB (26 tackles; 420 yds rushing, 6 TDs), Aiden Warncke-OT/DE (28 tackles), Clay Nafziger-OG/LB, Owen Roehring-WR/S, LJ Tijerina-WR/CB (124 yds rec.)
Key Returners: Brandon Taylor-QB/CB (116-204 for 1,331 yds passing, 424 yds rushing, 14 total TDs), Noah Gomez RB/S (738 yds rushing, 109 yards rec. 9 TDs), Antonio Cruz WR/CB (38 receptions for 436 yds, 4 TDs), Carson Meyer-OG/LB (67 tackles), Tony Grime WR/CB (21 tackles, 4 int.), Elijah Zimmerman WR/S (62 tackles, 2 int.), Matthew Gladieux C/DE (33 tackles)
Promising Newcomers: Josh Richer-Junior, OG/LB; Zoey Tuckerman-Senior, OT/DT; Spencer Short-Senior, WR/CB; DJ Newman-Sophomore, QB/FS; Shane Eicher-Senior, OG/DT
After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, this year’s Archbold Bluestreaks return 26 letterwinners and 15 starters with hopes for a return to the playoffs. “A key strength of our team for this upcoming season is the experience returning at the skilled positions”, said Head Coach David Dominique. “We return all but one starter in our defensive and defensive backfield so we will look for these guys to lead our team with the experience they gained last year”, he added.
Dominique said the loss of three starters on the offensive and defensive lines, which was a strength of last year’s team, is a key weakness entering the season. “Although we lost some very good players for last year’s senior group, we are going to look to our returning starters to lead the way for our team and help the newcomers adjust to varsity football.
While Dominique thinks several teams return talented rosters this season, he believes Patrick Henry is the team to beat when looking at the league race.
Archbold will begin the season at Hicksville on August 30th with their NWOAL opener on September 20th at home against league favorite Patrick Henry.
T3. Liberty Center (12-2, 6-1 in NWOAL; lost in D5 State Semifinals to Orrville 38-7)
Head Coach: Casey Mohler-3rd season
Key Losses: Brendan Morris-WR (24 receptions for 359 yds), Jarrett Krugh-QB (82/132 for 1,1245 yds passing, 14 TDs), Caleb Carpenter-RB (1,772 yds rushing; 20 TDs), Austin Like-DB (49 tackles, 9 int.), Orry Killam-K, Parker Strauss-K
Key Returners: Maguire Vollmar-LB (96 tackles; Special Mention All-Ohio), Zach Bowers-RB (1,342 yds; 16 TDs), Alex Righi-RB/LB (16 receptions for 320 yds), Connor Keller-DB/WR (93 tackles; 2 int.), Camden Krugh-QB (21-42 for 283 yds)
Promising Newcomers: Owen Johnson-Sophomore, G/LB; Evan Hogrefe-Junior, OL/DL; Trey Patterson-Junior, WR/DB; Aaron Shafer-Senior, WR/DB; Karter Kern-Junior, RB/LB
Liberty Center makes the move to Division VI this year after winning the Division V Region championship last season before falling to Orrville in the State Semifinals. The Tigers top two offensive weapons from last season have graduated in running back Caleb Carpenter and quarterback Jarrett Krugh. A different Krugh will guide the LC offense this year as junior Camden steps in for his older brother at the quarterback position and Zach Bowers, who was 1st Team All-NWOAL last season, will now shoulder the load at running back.
Head Coach Casey Mohler points to experience returning at skill positions and good numbers as strengths while he sees the development of the line a key to the upcoming season. “We need to replace our offensive and defensive lines. For us to compete each week we are going to need to find guys can play the line. Staying healthy is going to be critical for us to successful, but hopefully the extra four weeks of practice we had last season will pay dividends this season”, he concluded. Mohler joins the other coaches in the league by considering Patrick Henry as the league favorite.
Liberty Center opens their season on August 30th at Tinora and will start NWOAL play at home against Delta on September 20th.
5. Wauseon (4-6, 3-4 in NWOAL; No Playoffs)
Head Coach-Shawn Moore-1st season
Key Losses: Xavier Torres-RB/CB, Joey Shema-RB/LB, Trevor Rodriguez-OT/DT, Zeb Smith-OT/DT, Zac Carroll-Long Snapper/TE
Key Returners: Noah Tester-WR/S (20 receptions for 205 yds; 59 tackles, 3 int.), Sean Brock-WR/DE (18 receptions for 317 yds, 2TDs), Cody Figy-QB (37/60 passing for 442 yds, 4 total TDs), Connor Penrod-ATH/S (56-123 passing for 600 yds; 328 yds rushing; 12 total TDs; 39 tackles, 2 int.), Isaac Wilson-RB/LB (83 tackles, 2 sacks)
Promising Newcomers: Devon Ramos-Senior, WR/CB; Wes Spadafore-Senior, OG/DT; Jaden Banister-Junior, C; Jack Shema-Junior, OG; Matt Shaw-Sophomore, OT/DE
Wauseon graduate and longtime assistant Shawn Moore takes over at his alma mater trying to restore the success the Indians have enjoyed in recent years. Wauseon’s focus on offense this year will be getting the ball to their skilled players in space. “We have a good core of skilled guys that can catch the ball offensively and a good returning group of defensive backs”, said Moore when pointing out the strengths of the team.
The Indians will be inexperienced on the offensive and defensive lines, but Moore has liked what he’s seen in the preseason. “We have a solid group of kids that are working hard to put themselves in a position to win games and compete for a league championship. We are taking it everything one day at a time and look forward to the challenges that we will see in the NWOAL”, Moore explained.
Moore expects Bryan, Patrick Henry, Liberty Center, and Archbold to be solid this year and at the top of the league standings. Wauseon starts their season on the road at Fairview on August 30th and will begin league play at home versus Bryan on September 20th.
6. Evergreen (4-6, 2-5 in NWOAL; No Playoffs)
Head Coach: Aaron Schmidt-3rd season
Key Losses: Hunter VanWert-RB, Chandler Lumbrezer-WR
Key Returners: Nick Beemer-LB/OL (108 tackles), Jack Etue-QB/DB (95-188 passing for 1,253 yds, 13 TDs), Trent Coopshaw-RB/DT (299 yds rushing, 5 TDs), Jack Krispin-RB/LB (13 receptions for 188 yds, 2 TDs; 64 tackles); Brian Floyd-RB/LB (60 tackles); Will Smithmyer-OL/DT
Aaron Schmidt begins his third season leading the Evergreen program with hopes of finally breaking thru to qualify for a playoff spot. The Vikings will have experience returning with 20 letterwinners and 12 starters back from last year’s 4-6 team. Despite losing their top running back and wide receiver, Evergreen will have four-year starter back at quarterback in Jack Etue to run the Vikings offense.
“Our offensive line will be strong with a lot of size”, commented Schmidt when discussing their strengths. “Our backfield has experience and we have a lot of hard runners. The quarterback is a four-year starter and a good leader. Defensively, the linebackers have stood out in the preseason as a strength with their size, physicality, and speed”.
Schmidt says inexperience at the receiver and defensive back positions will be an area of but he’s happy with the improvement show thus far. “Our team will have every opportunity to be successful this season if the kids take to the coaching and build upon an improved team from last year. Our seniors need to step up and be leaders and our underclassmen need to follow. This group of kids have the potential to be as good as they want and work to be”, concluded Schmidt, who expects Patrick Henry and Liberty Center to contend for the league crown.
Evergreen opens at home on August 30th when they host Otsego and league play starts on September 20th with a trip to Swanton.
7. Swanton (3-7, 1-6 in NWOAL: No Playoffs)
Head Coach: Denton Saunders-1st season
Key Losses: Dylan Gilsdorf-QB/DB, Michael Lawniczak-RB, Hunter Mix-RB/DB, Ryan Marvin-DL, Derek Floyd-OL/DL, Xavier Williams-OL/LB, K. Jones-TE/DE
Key Returners: Josh Vance-WR/DB, Justyn Bartlett WR/DB, Riley Hensley-WR/K, Ian Saunders-WR/DB, Xavier Wiemken-RB/LB, Tyler Gowing-RB/LB, Andrew Thorton-QB, Devin Crouse-WR/DB
Promising Newcomers: Trent Wiegle-WR/DB, Bryce Marvin-OL/DL, Sam Dominique OL/DL, Eric Bettinger OL/LB
Swanton also has a new head man this season with Denton Saunders taking over after being an assistant at Patrick Henry. The Bulldogs, who have had some playoff success as of late, are learning a new system with new coaches but Saunders has been pleased with what he’s seen so far. “Our outlook is positive right now. Players are buying into what we have been doing”, said Saunders.
“We have athletes on the perimeter who can be explosive with the ball in their hands. Depth is a weakness so staying healthy will be important. We also some question marks on the offensive line”, stated Saunders who considers Patrick Henry the league favorite.
The Denton Saunders era at Swanton will start on August 30th at Rossford and NWOAL play will begin on September 20th when they host Evergreen.
8. Delta (0-7, 2-8 in NWOAL; No Playoffs)
Head Coach: Nate Ruple-1st season
Key Returners: Austin Kohlhofer-OL, Austin Michael-OL, Max Hoffman-RB, Kai Fox-RB/LB, Hunter Tresnan-Reighard-DE/TE, Shawn Cook-DB
Delta is the third NWOAL school who welcomes a new coach, but in their case it’s a familiar face. Nate Ruple is back leading the program after a stint in the junior high program which followed four years as the head coach.
Ruple’s team will have a small and inexperienced senior class which will pose a challenge as he works to build depth at various positions. “At this point in the season, we feel like our offensive and defensive line has the potential to be a strength for this team. We are counting on these two groups to continue to improve as we develop both offensively and defensively”, said Ruple.
“Overall, we will be a team that is very young and inexperienced. We will work to improve each day throughout the season as we strive to lay the foundation for success in the future”, he added.
Delta faces a huge challenge right out of the gate as they host Division VII State Champion McComb in their season opener on August 30th. NWOAL action starts on September 20th when the Panthers travel to Henry County to face Liberty Center.
Nate can be reached at email@example.com